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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Late night practice notes: Cam Newton brushes off early Heisman talk

Heisman talk? Cam Newton's not buying into it.

The Auburn quarterback, who leads the SEC in rushing (121.3 ypg) and pass efficiency (182.46) and has accounted for 14 of the Tigers' 17 touchdowns this year, said he hasn't given the trophy one thought.

“Oh, my goodness, no,” he said. “I’m just going to continue to do my job. I’m not going to think about that right now because I think that would be selfish of me.

“A speaker came and talked to us one day, past player, and said take one day at a time, take one play at a time, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Newton's case might gain steam in upcoming weeks. He was named Rivals.com's National Player of the Week after his 334-yard, 5-touchdown performance in the Tigers' 35-27 win against South Carolina on Saturday.

His teammate think he should at least be in consideration for the Heisman at this point.

“He’s probably the best player on one of the best teams in the country,” tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen said. “So I think he should be up for it.”

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Let's get on to the bullet points:
  • South Carolina defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson apparently said much of Auburn's success was through a finesse running game. Newton disagreed. "I wouldn’t call it finesse," he said. "I would just call it executing the game plan to the best of our ability.”
  • Newton ran the ball a career-high 25 times Saturday. He felt OK Sunday. "I’m all right," he said. "I feel like I pick and choose when I’m delivering and taking blows, but all in all, I’m all right. Surprisingly, I’m not as sore as I thought I would be or people thought I would be. I’m OK.”
  • Newton took off from the 7-yard line on the plunge at the end of his 54-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, a Superman-like pose for the leap. Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn wasn't necessarily pleased. "We were watching film and coach Malzahn said, ‘You know, I don’t want my quarterback just diving, landing on his shoulder unless you have to. Did you have to dive?'" Newton said. "I said, 'Yeah, I had to dive because I thought I was going to get tackles. I guess there could have been an alternate way of handling that, but it was spur of the moment and I thought it was the best way of entering the end zone.”
  • Did he ever think he wouldn't make it? "That would have been embarrassing,” he said. “But no, I think my momentum was enough that I could have taken off from the 10 if I thought I could make it.”
  • Newton liked what he saw out of freshman RB Mike Dyer, who had 23 carries for a career-high 100 yards. "When it comes down to the nitty gritty, when the game is getting close, he wants the football," Newton said. "His eyes are gleaming with give me the football. He knows what he’s capable of doing. I think after he fumbled the football, he wanted it even more. Wanted to get a little bit of payback to say the least about all that. Mike is an excellent player and excellent teammate to be around, and he hasn’t even tapped into what he’s capable of doing yet."
  • Newton goes a long ways in carrying out his fakes when he's running the zone read, acting as though he has the ball if he doesn't to confuse the defense. "That can be the difference in you holding the back side safety," he said. "It’s all the little things that help."
  • Sticking with the offense, Philip Lutzenkirchen played more snaps in the "3" position (an H-back role) than tight end. It brought him back in the offense. He caught his first three passes this season for 22 yards and a touchdown. "It was my time I guess," he said. "I was open."
  • A lot's been made of Auburn wanting to spread the ball to more receivers. Six different players caught passes Saturday. Only three did the previous week. "I mean, if you ask anyone, I think everyone wants the ball more," Lutzenkirchen said. "We’ve got so many weapons on this offense. Cam’s doing a good job spreading it around. When you got guys like Darvin Adams, who’s probably one of top receivers in the SEC last year, guys like T-Zach, I’m not complaining. Just whenever I get the ball, I’m going to do what i can with it.”
  • Lutzenkirchen thinks Newton's running ability is opening things up on the offense, forcing team's to use a spy on him. "I think defenses are foolish if they don’t do that," he said. "Cam is a weapon. He always has the ball in his hands. It’s one of those deals I’d have someone spying on him the whole game. But I’m not a coordinator."
  • WR Emory Blake made a nice touchdown run after catching a screen pass in the fourth quarter, a play he and Newton credited Jay Wisner for setting up with a good block. It's Blake's second touchdown this year after not doing much his freshman season. "It’s tough," he said. "Sometimes you feel like you can make plays when the coaches don’t think you can, but that’s the coaches’ decision. I’m sure they didn’t feel like I was ready to the end of the year – and I played a little bit more toward the end of the year last year. Now, I’m playing."
  • Still on offense, Brandon Mosley said he found out Thursday he's be starting at right tackle. He had an erratic game, getting hit with three different penalty flags but otherwise holding up throughout the night. It helped that he had already gotten in a game as an injury replacement at left tackle earlier this year. "Going from left to right, it doesn't seem as hard," he said. "It's the plays, getting them mixed up. You have to remember what side you're on. That's what kind of got me. It wasn't bad at all because I prepared throughout the week."
  • One penalty was glaring. He was flagged for a false start on the first play of the fourth quarter, a fourth-and-1 that would have been a Newton touchdown had it not been whistled dead. "It really frustrated me," Mosley said. "I was just leaning. It's something so small, something so stupid that really hurts. I kind of forgot about it after that and kept on playing."
  • Mosley said Auburn's pace took its toll on South Carolina: "You can tell when they got tired -- they were standing up, hands on their hips and weren't ready. We knew we were whipping them. It felt really good to get that pace going and knock them back."
  • Let's jump to defense, where Ted Roof's crew had another strong second half. " I think it's good the way that we've had to be on the field at the end of the last three ballgames, where it's come down to the last play," he said. "I think there's a lot of value in that, so when it keeps happening to us to build some confidence that we can shut the door and end the football game."
  • Auburn force four turnovers in the fourth quarter after getting just two in the first 15 quarters of the season. "I think some of the pressure that we put on the passer earlier in the game I think adds up," he said. "Those hits on quarterbacks and toward the end of the game, I think that may have been a factor."
  • Didn't notice this the other night, but Auburn's defense was on the field for six plays in the third quarter.
  • Roof continues to be impressed by Bynes. "He's really an aware football player," he said. "He knows everybody's job on every snap, and I haven't been around many guys that do that. And he works at the game and as a result of that, he's very aware. You saw him flash and then drop off the quarterback's eyes and made a pick. They were giving him a hard time in the film room because he's dropped several of those, and that thing seemed like it was in the air forever. So they were busting his chops when they were watching the tape and he finally caught one. I thought it happened at a pretty good time."
  • Roof praised the defensive line, which had a good chunk of Auburn's 15 quarterback hurries and three sacks. "I think you see some increased depth there, which Tracy (Rocker) has done a real good job rolling those guys," Roof said. "So we're playing a lot of people up front and I think it's helped. And I think that those guys are buying in and doing what coach Rocker is asking them to do. Good things are going to happen."
  • Nosa Eguae replacing Michael Goggans as a starting DE was performance-based. "We want to reward performance, because if you want to have good things happen to them when they perform, we want them to understand that," Roof said. "And Nosa played well. And he's rewarded with a start. Anytime there's competition, that's the kind of environment you want to create. And it'll make everybody better."
  • Eguae apparently knew last Sunday that he'd be starting. "I’ve been doing my job in games, but I pride myself on trying to be a practice player that makes plays in practice," he said. "I feel like if you make plays in practice, you’re going to make them in games. Whatever (Roof) saw, I just want to work hard in games and in practice.”
  • Oh yeah, apparently Auburn has a game this week against Louisiana-Monroe. "We can’t overlook anyone," Newton said. "There are plenty of examples of people overlooking in the past, and especially this season. We don’t want to ever get too complacent or too comfortable with the position we’re in. also, whatever publicity we get over the wins, we can’t get too excited. We’ve got to stay on an even keel because you can’t ever take your foot off the gas."


scottie burns said...

AB, i got to read all this late last nite. got some major, major substance homes. nice work! wde!

MikeP said...

Great report! This is the best place to come to in order to get accurate, up to date Auburn information.


Anonymous said...

nice report AB. Lots of detail